12 Weeks | Carnegie Mellon University | FemTech Collaborative
Through user research and iterative design, our team developed a UI brand language, information architecture, and user flows to serve as the basis for the creation of a birth control methods app that would give access to important information outside the doctor's office
Problem Statement
How might we design an app that allows users to understand and compare how different birth control methods fit into their lifestyle without stigma or assumed preferences?
Branding Design, UX Research, UI Design
Alex Heyison, Catherine Yochum, Mahzi Malcom, Yu Chuan Shan
Figma, Adobe InDesign
Design Intents
•Prioritize User Agency
•Guide users, drawing focus to chosen methods without closing off others
•Create an attractive, approachable, and professional brand language
•Allow comparison by consistent presentation of information
•Set good expectations for the longer timeline of using a method

Secondary Research 
To begin our research we spoke to medical professionals at the Magee Women's Hospital and conducted competitive analyses of similar apps on the market. 
From these investigations, we learned two key pain points in how birth control is matched with patients. 

1. Birth Control is a personal choice influenced by both health and lifestyle. 
2. Conversations on birth control suffer from a trust deficit. 
3. Many patients want to feel that they have actively chosen a method for themselves
4. While there are some trends, reasons for choosing a method vary widely and are difficult to predict.

From what we observed, past attempts at this kind of app struggled to find the balance in how strong of a recommendation they provided. Many used surveys as the basis for choosing a final method, but did so in a way that had dangers of heavily biased questions and outcomes or made recommendations in a way that could engender distrust.
User Research
For many, birth control isn't just a single decision, but a medical relationship that unfolds over decades. 
In our user research, we were able to work with women of diverse ages and backgrounds, to expand our understanding about how these decisions are actually made. 
As we discovered through our user interviews, making decisions about birth control is hard. Beyond the sheer number of available options, finding information that you can trust, compare equally, and consider in context of a user's specific lifestyle adds complexity and stress. 
Another key insight was how rarely "choosing a method" was a singular moment or interaction with a doctor. Contrary to what we heard from doctors, many patients weighed methods for months before speaking to a doctor. We also heard repeated stories about the months after a method is chosen where a patient evaluated the effects on their body, health and lifestyle. Further, re-evaluation of methods happened as lifestyles or values changed.
From these stories we learned that setting good expectations and reacting to  changes over time would be key requirements of our design,
Research Insights
There is a wide range of potentially relevant information.
Organize and disclose progressively
Users need to know what to expect as they acclimate to a new method
Don't hide away methods, even when filtering. It can cause distrust
While definite selections are suspicious, users do want to feel guided to particular methods

User Flow
Brand Guidelines
User Interface
Browse Page
In many birth control websites apps, we found that users were often prompted to take the personalization modules as part of the onboarding. In keeping with our principles of user agency, we wanted to make sure that users had direct access to information first, and guidance only upon request. 
From here, the user can access
1. Filters to allow users to focus attention by commonly considered factors
2. Detailed information on a single birth control method
3. A Compare Page to quickly highlight differences in the details of two methods
4. A Personalization module to help highlight methods based on their preferences
Detail Page
As birth control has become more and more widely used, the language used to talk about birth control has become more diverse. 
Many users hear about methods during conversation with peers or in non-medical contexts. At the same time, the medical terms for these methods change as new and updated forms enter the market. 
To help orient the user, we provide an image of the method (with scale indicator), and two sets of names to help bridge this language gap. 
Detail Page - Timeline
From what we heard in our user interviews, there were two persistent problems with how traditional tools handled birth control selection. 
1. Most tools focus on medical details instead of addressing what to expect when using that method. This often led to confusion, anxiety and misinterpretation of events once a method was chosen. 
2. Beyond acute side effects, many birth control methods vary over the longer term of their usage in how they're used and the work needed to maintain them. 
To address these factors, we introduced the Timeline layout where users could see what their relationship with the birth control method would be over time.

Scrollable Prototype ⇣

Compare Page
Once a user had started to browse information on several methods, we predicted that they might want to compare key attributes. 
Handling the information architecture at this screen presented unique challenges for our team. 
We settled on a stacked card motif to allow the high degree of compaction necessary for a mobile format, while also intuitively allowing users to disclose information at their own curiosity to avoid cognitive overload. 

Clickable Prototype 👆

Personalize Module
Although we wanted to focus on empowering our users, our interviews showed that many users would feel unsatisfied without some sort of recommendation.
At the same time, many users also expressed skepticism about recommendations that seemed too simple, pushy, or biased. 
In particular, there appeared to be psychological distrust built when options were removed from view.  
To strike the right balance, we devised a tagging system that could highlight certain methods without hiding away alternatives. 
We called this non-destructive filter the Ring System.
Through a series of fully optional questions, users can enhance the display of methods that may be attractive based on their preferences without losing the full picture.

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